Church bend is the most important corner on the track at Anglesey’s Trac Mon, where this year’s Britain’s Best Driver’s Car contest has just been fought (and, yes, you can read it in this week’s issue).
It’s one of the quickest corners, too: a real nerve-tester that, because Anglesey’s not the sort of circuit that appears much in televised motorsport or on gaming platforms, you might not know at all. In which case, allow me to enlighten you.
It’s a 4th gear bend. Depending on the car, you’ll be turning in at anywhere between 70 and 85mph and, after a bit of tyre scrub, apexing at a similar speed – though one largely defined by your bravery. It’s a late apex bend. It sucks you in early if you’re not quite brave enough to hang it out wide, grit your teeth and turn in gradually. And not only is the exit phase fast and bumpy, as well as being slightly downhill and off-camber any which way you take it; if you get your line wrong on the way in, you can run out of road on exit very easily.
Have I made it sound ‘senior’ enough yet? Good – because it’s one of only two or three bends at Anglesey that actually scare me.
Annoyingly, the Mazda MX5 30th Anniversary edition that qualified for BBDC this year by winning the test’s affordable-car counterpart back in August fairly breezes around it. Its modest power means you don’t need much more than an easing of the pedal to balance the nose on turn-in, and then you simply turn the ideally-paced and weighted steering one way as the chassis rolls gently the other. It’s all very delicate by modern performance car standards. Don’t worry about the body movement; there’s still plenty of grip to see you right, and a lovely sense of chassis balance that just begins to give you neutral attitude in the car as you point the nose out. You’ll barely notice the bumps at all.
Now try it in the super-exotic, apparently prototype-grid-ready Dallara Stradale. Turn in speed? Well, ask yourself: whaddayagot? If you can be brave enough to roll off the throttle early and leave the oddly spongy, over-assisted brake pedal well enough alone, you won’t destabilize the car at least, but you’ll likely be turning in at close to 90 if you do. That’s a brain-out job and no mistake.